I'm the author of young adult novels including The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, and An Abundance of Katherines.

The movie adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars comes out June 6th. I hope you like it.

I also co-created, with my brother Hank, the vlogbrothers and and Crash Course channels on YouTube. I help produce The Art Assignment, a collaboration with PBS Digital Studios.

I am also auctioning off my World Cup support to benefit the Sarcoma Foundation of America., so please consider donating. I donate $3 for every dollar you donate!


EDIT: I'm off now but will do the standard AMA thing in which I promise to return later and answer more questions but then do not in fact do so. (Really, though, I'll try to answer a few more.) Thanks so much, reddit, for your thoughtful and fun questions. When you're deciding what movie to see on June 6th, JUST REMEMBER THAT TOM CRUISE NEVER DID AN AMA. I kid. But seriously though.

Comments: 3646 • Responses: 66  • Date: 

vivanya841 karma

Why is "Looking for Alaska" not a movie yet? I mean, "The Fault in Our Stars" is good, and "Paper Towns", too. But imo, your best work by far, is Looking for Alaska...

thesoundandthefury2439 karma

I sold the movie rights to Paramount in 2005 when we desperately needed money, because we were moving to New York and Sarah (my wife) was starting graduate school. It was life-changing for us, and I'll always be grateful to everyone involved in that deal for making it happen.

But it did not lead to a movie. (At least not yet.) The reasons for this are complicated, but it boils down to this: It is really, really hard to get people to say "I want to spend $15,000,000 to make a movie out of a book not that many people have read."

I am really proud of The Fault in Our Stars movie, and I think it turned out unbelievably well. It's one of the most faithful movie adaptations I've ever seen, and I'm tremendously grateful to everyone who made it. But that is a rare, rare thing. Usually an author's relationship with their movie adaptations is much more....complicated. And so I have to say, I'm not bummed out that Alaska hasn't been made into a movie. (It may someday; I don't control the rights and never will.) There's something magical to a story belonging to its readers and only to its readers, and I'm very grateful that Alaska has continued to find its way in the world without the boost of a movie adaptation.

Harry Potter will forever be Daniel Radcliffe to me. I can't remember how I imagined Harry before the movies. But your Pudge and your Alaska...they still belong to you. They are still inside your head, and yours alone. There's something wonderful about that.

CaseyDoran819 karma

Who the eff is hank?

thesoundandthefury1418 karma

Hank is a mass of incandescent gas.

snakepliskin83657 karma

Hi John, long time fan first time caller.

As Fault in Our Stars has been such a well deserved success; do you feel more nervous about writing new projects now?


thesoundandthefury624 karma

Yeah, I definitely do.

I mean, there was a lot more pressure in 2003, when I desperately wanted to publish a novel and had no idea if I'd ever finish Looking for Alaska or if anyone would ever publish it or if anyone would ever read it. This is a much nicer kind of pressure.

I will not write TFIOS again. I got really lucky with that book on many fronts, and I know that my next book will have (as my previous books have had) a very different kind of life. That's okay.

And the great blessing of my professional life is that when I feel overwhelmed and/or freaked out about the prospect of writing, I can do other stuff. I can devote myself to Crash Course and The Art Assignment and working with nerdfighter artists and designers through DFTBA Records.

veeedub610 karma

Hey John, do you ever have trouble with procrastination? If so, is there anything in particular that helps you to focus?

thesoundandthefury2293 karma

I mean, I do spend a lot of time on reddit, if that's what you're asking.

ElitistHatPropaganda533 karma

Hi John - Why is your username thesoundandthefury?

FSU20121890 karma

Because why the Faulk not?

EDIT: Thank you so kindly for the gold, the silver, and the platinum appointed internet love. I truly appreciate it.

thesoundandthefury1750 karma

I give this comment Reddit Silver.

thesoundandthefury935 karma

It's from Macbeth originally. Macbeth says life is... "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Then Faulkner repurposed it for the title of his great novel "The Sound and the Fury." Then I rerepurposed it for a reddit username.

FSU2012433 karma

John, I want to begin a YouTube series, like Crash Course, that explains concepts in economics, politics, and maybe even political philosophy. I am new to every aspect of video making, editing, and vlogging. What advice would you give for someone trying to start an educational, yet entertaining, vlog?

thesoundandthefury665 karma

It's very challenging these days, because you need so many skills: You need to be a good communicator, a good researcher, a good video editor, a good animator, etc. I'm lucky that I started out back when you could be good at basically nothing and find an audience because there was much less content. My advice would be to start making videos. Just start making them and let yourself get better as you go, and really give as much of yourself as possible to improving each time you upload, and not to worry about quantity of audience so much as quality of engagement.

Like, a lot of people watch CSI, right? A LOT. And it's a good, entertaining program. (Probably. I don't think I've ever seen it.) But the quality of connection is not that high. Very few people say things like, "CSI changed my life," or "I live a different and more engaged life today because CSI taught me the magic of Enhancing." It's a lot cooler in my opinion to make stuff that people find really important and/or useful than it is to make stuff that a lot of people watch.

I_Need_To_Go_To_Bed785 karma

"You need to be... a good research."

"I started out back when you be good."

-New York Times Bestselling author John Green

thesoundandthefury1114 karma

SORRY! But now I can just deny that your comment ever had any validity. I don't what you're talking about! There were no typos in my answer. YOU NEED TO GO TO BED.

darkhorse221B398 karma

Hey John! Being an Australian, I can't believe I managed to finally catch one of these!

Anyway- What have you been reading lately?

thesoundandthefury454 karma

Right now I'm reading "Brown Girl Dreaming" by Jacqueline Woodson, a book of poetry published for kids but also great for adults. Like all of Jackie's work, its beauty draws you in and then the gut punches of the world hit you so hard. It's great.

Just finished and am still haunted by "An Untamed State" by Roxane Gay. What a novel! Just wow.

And I'm rereading "Behind the Beautiful Forevers" for the nerdfighter summer book club.

LorenzoAOG373 karma

Hey John,

Just wanted to say thanks for creating such an awesome community of people that genuinely give a shit about things that matter. That's pretty sweet.

I've heard you talk about depression and anxiety in a few of your videos, I was just wondering what your advice is to people who suffer from depression and the like. I was diagnosed with Narcolepsy three years ago and since then my quality of life has taken a nose dive, I try to keep my chin up, but it's not always easy. What inspires you to drive on and be the best you can be?

EDIT: Also thanks for making Crashcourse, without it I would have failed several American History tests. And tell Hank I find his boyish charm endearing, you both seem highly approachable.

thesoundandthefury700 karma

My advice is to get help--to find a good therapist and figure out what works for you.

For me: I take medication daily and have for many years. I also try to exercise a lot, because there's some evidence that exercise lessens the symptoms of anxiety, and I try to use the strategies that I've learned in cognitive behavioral therapy to cope with my illness. But it's a chronic illness and it hasn't, like, gone into remission or anything for me. It's something I live with, something that I've integrated into my life. And we all have to integrate stuff into our lives, whether it's mental illness or physical disability or whatever.

There is hope. There is treatment. You are not alone, and while I know the struggle feels at times completely hopeless and futile, there is a far shore for the vast majority of people, and I wish you the best.

thisiswater13312 karma

Do you identify as a feminist? I ask because feminism is very misunderstood culturally and while many of your sentiments seem very feminist to me I have never heard you use the word (as far as I remember).

thesoundandthefury733 karma

Yes, I do.

My hardcore badass feminist mom told both my brother and me that we were feminists from the time we were like two years old, so if she ever heard me saying I wasn't a feminist she'd fly to my house and smack me upside the head.

NerdusMaximus287 karma

How do you balance your work as a author, educator, father and professional FIFA player? Do you have set "YouTube only" and "writing only" days, or do a little of everything every day?

thesoundandthefury527 karma

Well, just to be clear, I am a retired professional FIFA player, because I no longer make money from being terrible at FIFA. The money I make from being terrible at FIFA goes to sponsor the great AFC Wimbledon, a fourth-tier English football club owned by its fans.

But to your question: In an ideal world, I write in the morning and do other stuff (email, booking travel, shooting crash course/art assignment/mental floss, etc.) in the afternoon. But right now I'm not writing much because the movie stuff has been very hectic and overwhelming. Hopefully things will return to normal after the film comes out and I'll be back to writing every morning, because I love to write and feel much less sane when I'm not doing it.

maxillz23285 karma

John, how did you go about deciding the names for your main characters? How much math did you have to learn/relearn in order to write An Abundance of Katherines?

thesoundandthefury813 karma

I had to learn a lot about math to write Katherines, even though Daniel Biss did all the actual math in the book. But I needed to understand the ideas in order to write about them.

As for names: One of the benefits of naming characters that you don't have when, say, naming a baby is that you actually know the person when you name them. So you can use the name to reflect stuff about them.

Like, take Hazel: Hazel is an in-between color, and she's in between a lot of things: In between healthy and sick, in between adulthood and childhood, in between breathing air and breathing water, etc. So that seemed like a small way of communicating the instability and fear (but also excitement) of that time of life.

With Augustus: Augustus is the name of Roman emperors, right? It's a grand name associated with traditional notions of greatness. But Gus is a kid's name. It's short and cute. In the novel, he makes the journey from strength to weakness, which is the opposite of the usual hero's journey. He starts out this confident, pretentious kid who's extremely performative in his every action. And then he becomes vulnerable. He becomes cracked open. For Gus, this is a brutal process. (Remember that moment toward the end when he says to Hazel, "You used to call me Augustus?") But his ability to be in it with her, and to allow himself to love and be loved despite the loss of the self he so carefully cultivated, is to my mind way more heroic than those traditional notions of Great Men Doing Great Things.

In the case of Katherines, I called them Katherine because it's a good name for anagramming. There are a lot of anagrams in Katherines, and I suck at anagramming, so I cheated by picking a name that has the right mix of consonants and vowels.

mmonoceros281 karma

If you could have dinner with one person, alive or dead, who would you choose?

thesoundandthefury1088 karma

Difficult question but honestly probably my grandmother. Yes, it would be nice to find out what Jesus or Muhammad or Cleopatra really thought and valued, but I miss my grandmother a lot and would like to hear some of her stories about growing up in Skullbone, Tennessee just one last time.

FateTrap225 karma

Hey John! Mongolian dropping in. Will you ever make a video about Mongolia today? Are we still the exception?

thesoundandthefury299 karma

I think a Crash Course World History about contemporary Mongolia is actually a great idea. Thanks for the idea, and I apologize in advance for when I don't give you credit for it.

Protonious203 karma

Hey John. How do you feel about your family and their privacy when it comes to your online presence?

thesoundandthefury663 karma

Well, I realize it's a bit strange to be like, "AMA on reddit! Follow me on tumblr! Read my tweets about what I had for breakfast! BUT DO NOT COME NEAR MY FAMILY OR VIOLATE OUR PRIVACY."

But yeah. It's inappropriate to go to people's houses, and we do--too often--have people come by the house and knock on the door or leave stuff in the mailbox. That's very scary to me, but it's also weird and disorienting for my kids to be playing in the front yard and have people they don't know drive by and shout "Hi Henry! Hi Alice!"

There is a difference between the person I am professionally and the person I am privately, and I need to hold onto that in order not to lose my mind, and also in order to be a good father and husband. So I do seek privacy in my personal life insofar as possible.

That said, if you ever see me at like Target or whatever, feel free to come up and say hi. If I'm in public, I know that I'm in public, and it's always nice to meet people who like the stuff I make, and I genuinely want you to say hi. (That's not the case for many people, I know, but it is the case for me.)

Twansel198 karma

Holy Crap, John Green is here to answer questions!?

I love the vlogbrothers videos but I haven't been active in Nerdfighteria at all, but I am going to see the TFIOS movie. Can I still call myself a Nerdfighter?

thesoundandthefury364 karma

Absolutely. If you want to be a nerd fighter you are one. One of the central ideas around nerdfighter as an identity is that it's something all of us are making up together all the time. We don't want it to be a rigidly defined thing but instead a community driven by shared values (decreasing worldsuck, for instance) and engaged conversations.

BaJent197 karma

Pineapple on pizza; yes or no?

thesoundandthefury646 karma

If pineapple pizza shows up at my house, I'm going to eat it. There's not much you can do to a pizza to keep me from eating it. But in general I would never CHOOSE to put fruit on a pizza.

drunkandinlove174 karma

I met you a few years ago at a convention and had several drinks while spending a half hour and three glasses of wine to work up the courage to tell you how much your work and the fact that you do it with and are open about anxiety means to me. It did not come out well. Sorry about that. It was both one of my favorite conversations and most embarrassing all at once.

And I'll add a question on here about TFIOS because, you know, movie time soon! Already got my June 5th ticket :)

What scene was the coolest to see come to life?

thesoundandthefury284 karma

Don't worry about it. Those conversations are always weird and hard and I often fret about them for years after they happen, but the truth is that it's hard to express this stuff. It's hard for me to tell you how genuinely grateful I am that you've found something valuable in my work. So I'm sure I walked away from that conversation thinking that you were perfectly lovely and I was a complete grapefruit.

As for TFIOS: The cancer support group days with Mike Birbiglia and all the teens living with cancer were the coolest days for me to see come to life. But really, every day was wonderful. It really was just a dream movie experience--the opposite of what usually happens to authors--and while the movie is not mine in any way, I'm so proud of the people who made it.

eldarshadow165 karma

Hi John!

What do you think is the future of CrashCourse? World History is one of my favourite things on YT. Do you plan to do a whole multitude of subjects (physics, math, art, music,..)?

thesoundandthefury282 karma

Yes, we're going to continue expanding Crash Course as resources allow. People who watch Crash Course have been really awesome about funding the show through Subbable, which has allowed us to achieve financial stability. The challenge now is expanding our offerings so that Crash Course can be useful to a wider variety of students and people who are just interested in learning.

The first step on that front is a 10-episode Big History course, an interdisciplinary approach to history that begins with the Big Bang and charts the formation of the Solar System and eventual emergence of life. That project is funded by a Bill Gates organization, and we're really excited about it. But there will be a wider variety of courses in the future.

messyhair42129 karma

So is Bill Gates a Nerdfighter?

thesoundandthefury265 karma


olovj150 karma

Hello from Sweden, John!

I started watching Crash Course: World History a couple of weeks ago and I'm really impressed with the format of the show. What impresses me most, however, is your approach to teaching history by questioning societal and geographic norms and acknowledging that our traditional assumptions about history might not always be correct. I've learned a lot, so thank you!

My question is if this was a motivation for you. Did you have a grudge against traditional history teaching? If not, what were your inspirations?

thesoundandthefury193 karma

The biggest inspiration for the approach to World History is my high school history teacher, Raoul Meyer, who writes the videos and whose commitment to a non-Eurocentric view of world history was hugely important to me in high school and still is.

Mostly I want to take multiple approaches to the study of history because we need to understand that the way we remember is shaped by the voices we listen to, and by the assumptions that we make about the world.

Teamwork_Is_OP143 karma

Hey John.

Would you do a collaboration with "Thug Notes"?


thesoundandthefury157 karma

Maybe. I really like what they do! (I do sometimes feel, though, that they don't dig deeply enough into WHY critical reading is important. For me at least, it's not about getting a good grade on a test. It's about finding ways deep into big and difficult questions about consciousness.)

aleafonthewind2116 karma

Necessary hi/big fan/etc. sentence :) Are there any books you've read that you truly do not understand and/or really dislike? Why?

thesoundandthefury415 karma

Yes, I hate Atlas Shrugged.

sophloaf247114 karma

Do you think you can keep the community feeling of nerdfighteria even as your fan base explodes due to the TFIOS movie?

thesoundandthefury156 karma

This is a great question, and it's something that Hank and I talk about a lot.

There were a few hundred nerdfighters in July of 2007, and then Hank's song "Accio Deathly Hallows" went viral and there were suddenly several thousand nerdfighters. That transition was very challenging for us personally and for the community, but I really think we emerged from it with a stronger sense of our shared values as nerdfighters and a better platform for doing stuff together like the Project for Awesome.

In our videos, we aren't talking that much about all the attention and scrutiny that accompanies the TFIOS movie because we mostly just want to keep the community the same. (I mean, my first video after TFIOS comes out will be about Behind the Beautiful Forevers, this summer's nerdfighter book club selection.)

I think it will be challenging for a while, but I also think nerdfighters are generally a pretty welcoming and supportive bunch. I'm very grateful to everybody for their patience with me in my time of intense crazy, though.

weddinggirl2015114 karma

What are the pros and cons of having a large teen fanbase?

thesoundandthefury397 karma

I don't really know if there are cons to it? Adults used to be less likely to take my work seriously, but that hasn't been the case with TFIOS.

The pros, for me: Teenagers give a shit. They are unironically enthusiastic, and they look at big questions about meaning and suffering and responsibility directly and without embarrassment. This inspires me, because I also like thinking about those questions but sometimes feel that there's something naive or childish about, like, seeking authentic and sincere emotional and intellectual ways of engaging. I really like that about them.

Plus, they're forming their values, which is a hugely important process, and it's a great honor to be offered a seat at the table in that conversation.

johnnytheginger110 karma

This book came out when my mom was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma. It helped me through a lot. Especially losing her. I wish more people wrote like you. Hell, I wish I wrote like you. It's simple, majestic, heart-breaking and so inspiring. Thank you for writing TFIOS. I can't wait to see the movie. I love you and all that you do. That's not weird is it? Oh, my brother got mistaken for you at the mall here.

thesoundandthefury118 karma

Thanks; that means a lot to me, and no, it's not weird. I'm really sorry that you lost your mom, and I'm very grateful if you could find things to connect with in TFIOS that were helpful to you.

lackadaisicalxxxfu107 karma

John Green. The line about falling in love is like falling asleep.. "slowly, then all at once".. Why do I feel like I've heard it before..? More importantly- What inspired it? It's a great line.

thesoundandthefury213 karma

There's a similarish line from Hemingway: "How did you go bankrupt?" "Two ways: Gradually, then suddenly." So maybe there? That was my initial inspiration for the line.

ajnack99 karma

Favorite Mountain Goats album?

thesoundandthefury159 karma

Tough call, but probably The Sunset Tree.

beaglechips86 karma

Hi John. I'm a soon to be 21 year old with muscular dystrophy. I want to do YouTube/vlogging since I don't work. As someone who's never done this sort of thing, what is the first thing I should know about entering the world of YouTube?

thesoundandthefury171 karma

It's really hard to let go of your self-consciousness, but it's also vital, because you have to create the most authentic relationship possible with your viewers.

Also, like anything, you can't expect to be great at it from the beginning. Work hard at getting better--more precise, better edited, etc. it's a craft and you have to give yourself over to it.

Lastly be patient with yourself. We made 110 videos before we had 200 subscribers. What matters to me is not how many people watch our videos but how much they matter to the people who do watch.

I wish you great success!

manavarrojr81 karma


First of all, huge fan of your books and all of your projects! I have a sort of non-allofthosethings related question: A few weeks ago in a Wimbly Wombly video, you mentioned that you drive (or would like to drive) a Chevy Volt. I'm in the market for a new car, and was hoping to get your thoughts on the Volt?


thesoundandthefury206 karma

I love my Volt. It's so fun to drive and very fuel efficient (I often go a thousand miles on 10 gallons of gas). Cannot recommend it highly enough. It's not really an economically rational choice (there I would've gone Camry or Ford Fusion), but when The Fault in Our Stars took off I was like, "I'm going to buy my dream car." So I did.

SymphonicStorm76 karma

How have Puff Levels been recently?
What subject would you like to cover in Crash Course that hasn't come up yet?

thesoundandthefury117 karma

Puff levels are pretty high at the moment around here. This is without question the most intense and stressful and weird and non-normal period of my life.

As for Crash Course: I'd love to do more interdisciplinary stuff where we learn stuff together but don't necessarily follow a traditional curriculum. And I'd love to do a course on civics and government.

speech-geek70 karma

Are you going to support the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter?

thesoundandthefury159 karma

Already have!

YouTubeReference68 karma

what was dinner like at your house growing up? Did you and your brother sit there with your parents and just rattle off facts about the world at a million words a minute?

thesoundandthefury204 karma

Kinda. We ate dinner together as a family pretty much every night, and there was a lot of conversation about the news and the meaning of life and all that stuff. It was a very intellectually invigorating childhood, and my brother responded by being a wonderful student and a great person. I responded by being a terrible student who caused my parents endless misery.

jreynolds32366 karma

Hi John, just wanted to know who do you think is the favorite to win the World Cup? Personally, I like Germany because, you know, they're Germany. What about you? Thanks!

thesoundandthefury241 karma

My loyalty is defined ENTIRELY by who has donated the most to sarcoma research so at the moment I think the United States is the unquestionable favorite and is so certain to win the Cup that they basically should just send it to the U.S. before play even begins.

If you donate a thousand dollars on behalf of Germany, though, my opinion will change dramatically.

karmanaut66 karma

What was your favorite cartoon when you were growing up?

thesoundandthefury139 karma

What was the one where they lived at the bottom of the ocean? Snorks? And what was the one where the animals wore shirts???

Those two.

mmj_gregory120 karma

thesoundandthefury193 karma


notdeadanymore66 karma

Hi John,

You remain the only author who has ever responded to my fanmail. I was 15 and it was 2006. You were thoughtful and kind and I still appreciate it.

-The first New Zealander to read An Abundance of Katherines

thesoundandthefury70 karma

Thanks for writing me lo those many years ago, and for introducing the great nation of New Zealand to Colin Singleton.

DVM42265 karma

Are you an organ donor? Why or why not?

thesoundandthefury217 karma

Yes, I am.

I mean, my liver is not going to be of use to me after I am deceased, but it might be of use to someone else. This seems like a pretty clear-cut choice to me.

Gnalmex64 karma

Do you sometimes abuse being famous? What are the perks of being a celebrity? (Even if becoming one was not your intention)

thesoundandthefury330 karma

The only like really cool perk of being a celebrity that I ever experienced: I really like these socks called Happy Socks. I wear them a lot, and they're very comfortable, and they have lots of great argyle designs. (I like argyle socks.)

And I guess someone who works at Happy Socks has a kid who is a nerdfighter, and so they sent me some free Happy Socks. Hank and I have a rule that we don't do product placement or accept gifts from companies in exchange for talking about them. This has resulted in me having to turn down some pretty sweet gifts, including, like, cars.


Oh the other perk is that whenever I travel for the movie, Fox gets me a person who puts makeup on me in the morning, and it turns out I really love wearing makeup, and these people do such a good job of making me look young and untired and etc., and I just love it and wish a makeup artist would come to my house every morning and put makeup on me.

whydoyouburn61 karma

What's your favourite movie?

thesoundandthefury359 karma

Harvey is the one movie that I think genuinely may have changed the course of my life, but my favorite movie is probably Rushmore. As a boarding school kid who wasn't a great student, it really resonates with me. Also Rushmore is a big point of connection between my wife and me, by which I mean we were watching it the first time we made out.

Iprefercats61 karma

Hi John!! I was wondering if you had any advice on how to get out of your comfort zone in college enough to meet people. My freshman year flew by and while I made good grades, I didn't really meet any new people, because I was too nervous to "put myself out there." Any advice on overcoming this?

Thank you so much for doing this AMA. DFTBA! Tell Hank hi!

thesoundandthefury194 karma

I am a terribly unqualified person to offer advice on this subject. I literally hid under a chair recently at a birthday part for one of my son's friends.

Kiyoshi1660 karma

What's your take on the decline of brick-and-mortar bookstores and the rise of online book sales? Does this affect you in any way as an author? (Also, if you ever wanted to do a book signing at your hometown Books-A-Million, that'd be awesome!)

thesoundandthefury139 karma

Well, I am an old person, so I have no real perspective on this, because I like bookstores and think they are vital to my process of discovery. Booksellers have turned me onto writers I never would've discovered otherwise, and I like having experts (librarians, booksellers, etc.) to help guide my reading choices.

But the one thing I will say is this: We need more than one outlet for books. I'm very, very scared that in the future there will only be two kinds of books: Those that are available only through Amazon, and those that are widely available via Big Box stores like Wal-Mart and Target. In that world, traditional publishers could only add value to widely distributed books, which would basically mean that Wal-Mart decides what American literature is widely distributed, which I think would suck. Then over at Amazon, you'd have a huge and very flat marketplace in which lots of stuff will struggle to find the audience it deserves. I'm not worried about me in that world; I'm "good at the Internet" or whatever and have a direct relationship with my audience. But I am worried about, say, the next Toni Morrison. Beloved became a massive bestseller when it was published 40 years ago. It's hard for me to imagine that happening in an amazon-only future.

KnightRiderShreve58 karma

Would you consider a career in politics?

thesoundandthefury225 karma

No. no no no no no no no no no no. No. No.

I realize this is an unpopular opinion, but I actually admire people who serve in elected office, because it is difficult and complicated work and I think most of them really are trying to do right by their constituents. But...no.

One of the things I dislike most about human social orders is the concept of the "meeting," in which a bunch of people sit together for a long period of time discussing a project to death and then form a task force to discuss it further so that the task force can produce a report which will then be considered at another series of meetings by a different group of people.

God, I hate meetings with such ferocity. I can't even tell you. When I am forced to sit in a meeting, I usually rock back and forth in my chair for a while before eventually saying to the people I work with, "I'm sorry but if this meeting goes on any longer I am going to actually and literally die."

Anyway, politics involves a lot of meetings. So no.

BeadleBelfry53 karma

There was a lot of hype about you being in the tFiOS film. Do you know the reasoning behind that scene/ those scenes being cut? Can you tell us what scene(s) you were going to be in?

thesoundandthefury256 karma

The scene I was in takes place at the airport as Hazel and Gus leave for Amsterdam. A girl (I play her father) asks Hazel about her cannula and then tries them on.

This scene happens in the book, but the context and timing are different.

It was cut from the movie not because I was terrible (although I was!) but because the scene really did not need to be in the movie. It created an unnecessary pause between finding out they were going to Amsterdam and actually going to Amsterdam, and Josh felt (I agree) that it needed to flow directly into the trip itself.

That said, I think it is ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS that I got cut from the movie adaptation of my own book, and that's why I won't shut up about it.

Jennonite50 karma

How do you know exactly what it's like to be a young girl with a chronic illness? My younger self needed TFIOS and my current self appreciates it more than you can know. Was Hazel Grace inspired by a real person in your life?

Edit: My brain and words do not get along this morning.

thesoundandthefury81 karma

That's very kind of you to say. Thanks.

I was good friends with a young woman named Esther Earl who died of cancer in 2010 when she was 16. And I could never have written TFIOS without knowing and loving Esther. (That said, Esther and Hazel are very different people.) But ultimately fiction is always about imagining and trying to empathize, so I just tried to imagine her as best I could. I'm sure there's a lot of stuff I got wrong, but the fundamental emotional experience of being a person who is living with illness or disability but not wholly defined by illness...I think that's pretty universal, and I'm very grateful if I got it right enough for you to feel the connection.

Zena-Xina50 karma

I picked this up at a thrift shop and after comparing it, I'm pretty sure it's your signature. Can you confirm it for me?

thesoundandthefury64 karma

Looks legit to me.

HigherFunctions45 karma

I've seen you mention several times that yourself and Hank don't like to disclose your religious and political views (publicly). Why is this? And since this is an AMA, could you maybe give us a hint?

thesoundandthefury155 karma

I talk about my religion reasonably often. (there's a great line in my wikipedia article--not that I obsessively read my wikipedia article--that goes, "Green has stated that he is Episcopalian." Hank is, so far as I know, an atheist. No, this is not weird for us. And no, it does not mean that we have different values or approaches to morality or anything.

I am Episcopalian. I find a lot of the conversation about religion online really, really boring. (For instance, I am not very interested in the question of whether there is actually a God, because I think it's very hard to define the words "is" and "actually" in that sentence, and that it quickly becomes a kind of how-many-angels-can-you-fit-on-the-head-of-a-pin conversation.) But i go to church (although not every week), and continue to find my faith an important and engaging part of my life.

Politically, I guess I lean to the left in the U.S., but in most of Europe, I would lean to the right. Depends on the issue. I think free markets are mostly good for economies, but that income inequality is a massive problem for social orders, and that markets cannot address that problem.

agrizzle52 karma

thesoundandthefury109 karma

There is always a relevant XKCD.

arsenik-affliction42 karma

do you have any advice for someone aspiring to be an editor, or looking for other possible professions in the writing field?

thesoundandthefury110 karma

Follow editors on twitter and tumblr. See what they find interesting. Read a lot. Read a lot of new books, including ones you might not like that much. Find out what kind of books interest you: YA novels? Cookbooks? Trivia? What sections of the bookstore do you want to edit the books in? Then move to New York. That's my honest advice. Move to New York and try to get your foot in the door somewhere and work your ass off.

nate718139 karma


How do you maintain work\life balance?

DFTBA, --Nate

thesoundandthefury147 karma


gavers33 karma

Hey John, I don't know of you are still on or if you'll see this in the flood of comments and orangered.

About a year ago, just after TFiOS celebrated it's first year since publishing, a group of Nerdfighters including myself put together a book that contains the signatures of over 3,000 Nerdfighters from around the world thanking you for your signed books. Our original goal was 150,000 signatures but we didn't make that by the deadline. I know it was delivered to you (via DFTBA Records and not a creepy person just leaving it in your mailbox), and I was wondering what you thought about it? I didn't see a response from you about it at the time and I wondered if you actually saw it.

Thanks for being awesome, Gavi from Israel

thesoundandthefury44 karma

I have the book! It's on my shelf at home! Thank you!

partylombardi29 karma

Mr. Green!


I'm a teen that works at a Barnes and Noble in MA (for over 3 years now), and I absolutely love your novels.

First, I must thank you for addressing issues that are actually important to the teens and even parents of our century, and doing so in a way that is so realistic it hurts my heart.

Also I have to thank you for making younger generations actually want to read. I've never had a problem voluntarily picking up a book and encouraging others to, but you, Mr. Green, inspire children to read across the world. So, thank you for that.

Second, I must ask you a question, as is custom: Now that you books have grown more popular with adults, as a result of them stealing it off of their respective child's bookshelves, or visiting me at work looking for it, or the anticipation of the movie soon to be released, is there any chance of seeing an adult fiction novel from you in the future? Personally I think that one would serve as an amazing bridge for teens to move from teen to adult and potentially keep them reading beyond their teen years, but I'm just a dreamer.


Also, my friend Victoria might be your biggest fan of all time, and by "might be" I mean "is", so should you reply to this, fingers crossed, if you could do a mini shout out to her, that would be amazing!

thesoundandthefury29 karma

  1. Thanks for sharing my books through your job!

  2. I like writing YA fiction. I like my audience, but I also like the being on the YA shelves with lots of different genres. I like that sci fi and romance and historical fiction and fantasy are all in conversation with each other in the YA world. I would miss that if I started publishing for adults.

wfhilhorst26 karma

Hi John,

I just wanted to thank you, and also Hank, for helping me during some of the worse times in my life. During many of my depression I have found inspiration, happiness and creativity in your videos. I feel part of this amazing community and am so happy I discovered Nerdfighteria and the vlogbrothers on that lonely tuesday afternoon back in 2010. I know for certain that I wouldn't be the person I am today if I hadn't found your videos. They've inspired me to pursue the art of filmmaking, but more importantly, they've made me enjoy life more. I have made many friends thanks to nerdfighteria and have more self confidence overall thanks to all the wonderful and insightful tips from your videos over the past few years.

Of course I'm also a huge fan of your books. I have even managed to convince my father to read some of them and he actually enjoyed them. One of the best memories was actually meeting you during a very small Nerdfighter meeting in Hoogeveen in the Netherlands back in, I believe 2011. One of the most amazing things was standing in line with my copies of Will Grayson, Will Grayson and Looking for Alaska and seeing one of my true heroes sitting there and just being able to talk with him. Afterwards you asked if people wanted to take a picture. I asked to one of the other people who was standing in line if he could take a picture with my camera. But John took my camera and said: "Haha, don't worry I've got this". And took a picture of us together. Now, years later I realized that John was making selfies with fans before it was the norm. (Here's the picture for those who are interested: http://i.imgur.com/TIhS3Sb.jpg )

John, thanks again for all the amazing memories and what you have done (in)directly for me in my life. You helped me get trough some of the worst times in my life and I couldn't be happier. I'll always carry the words with me for the rest of my life, because I truly believe in them.

Don't Forget To Be Awesome.

Thank you for everything,

Willem - The Netherlands

thesoundandthefury56 karma

My selfie game is so strong.

Thanks, Willem, and thanks for allowing me and my books into your life.

A side note about that day: I was so sick. I didn't know it at the time, but I needed to have my gallbladder out. At the time, I just knew that I was extremely sick, and I felt like the book I was writing (TFIOS) was actually going to kill me. I wrote on the train the whole way from Amsterdam, and I was really sad and scared because I'd lost so much weight and I was generally struggling a lot with my mental health, so it was a great gift that day to be able to meet you and your fellow students in Hoogeveen. I needed it, so thanks.

MrJAPoe25 karma

John, do you hold any disdain at all for those who contribute to the Free Rider Problem (those who use a free service but don't help support it - like people that listen but won't donate to NPR/PBS/etc.)?

As a person who just graduated high school and is making not a lot of money (in fact, I'm losing a lot of it because of college bills), I feel not insignificantly guilty that I enjoy programs like yours, in addition to programs like MinutePhysics, 1Veritasium, Smarter Every Day, Numberphile, etc. without giving back. I sit through ads in videos and occasionally sign up for - and then immediately unsubscribe to - services that give sponsorship money (Netflix, Audible, and the like) to help give that extra push, but I still feel like a free loader.

I can't exactly afford to buy a poster or tshirt from all the shows I love because, as previously stated, I'm a broke student. So how do you all deal with/view people such as myself? And is there some way of helping contribute to the community that would help negate my free-riding?

Thanks for reading!

PS: my grandmother gave me her copy of TFiOS (she said she loved it!) so my personal summer project is to read that some time before I start my freshman year of college this fall :)

thesoundandthefury59 karma

There are lots of ways you can contribute to nerdfighteria without any money. For instance, we're always looking for people to transcribe videos so that people who can't hear can still enjoy them, and also because it makes it easier to translate them into other languages.

Sitting through ads is also a very useful thing you can do for creators whose content you like. I can only speak for myself, but for me, the gift is you watching the video, just as my gift to you is making the video and trying to do a good job with it. That seems like a fair exchange to me, and I don't feel like you owe me anything.

I also think that someday you will grow up and maybe you will have money, and maybe I will not have money, and I will want to do something that requires money. And I think you can help me then. That's why Reading Rainbow got a million dollars in under a day on kickstarter. A generation of people who had no money then but were totally transformed by Reading Rainbow have money now, and want to see the program grow and succeed.

kpetersen118 karma

What do you think about the idea of the 'manic pixie dream girl'? I've heard some people criticize you for reinforcing the stereotype. Do you think that's true or not?

thesoundandthefury55 karma

Books belong to their readers, but I hope that my books battle the idea that women are objects to be desired and/or worshipped by men rather than reinforcing that idea.

In Looking for Alaska, it is Pudge's (and everyone else's) failure to see Alaska as a person--a person whose pain is as real as anyone else's--that leaves them feeling, rightly, guilty. In Paper Towns, the lie of the manic pixie dream girl is attacked very directly (I hope) as we see what happens when young men dehumanize young women by idolizing them and buying into this trope that girls exist to swoop down into your life and change you.

In Paper Towns, Quentin cannot find Margo until he stops thinking of her as a thing and starts thinking of her as a person, complete with all the complexities and weaknesses of any other person, and I think it's pretty explicit in the text: "Margo was not a miracle. She was not an adventure. She was not a fine and precious thing. She was a girl."

It's only once Q can imagine Margo as a complex human being separate from his ideas of her that he's able to make a real connection with her.

But yeah, regardless of whether I've succeeded, I personally think the MPDG trope is dangerous and destructive.

BluntmansGotChronic16 karma

What's your biggest regret?

thesoundandthefury58 karma

I wish I had been nicer to people.

TFiOS14 karma

I'm probably a little late here. But what's your favorite type of sandwich?

Also thanks for the inspiration for my user name.

thesoundandthefury61 karma

Sweet username.

Is it a sandwich when you put a piece of pizza against another piece of pizza and then eat both of them at the same time?

inkathinka12 karma

Hello John. I am a fan of both your books and all your vast video library of work. I am an old-school media person, both grew up on and worked at Sesame Street, and the question that has been bugging me for a long time now is why new media is not being used to "raise up" the diverse masses of children the way Sesame Street used TV. Saw the Google diversity stats yesterday, not surprising but still appalling. There is a ton of incredible content for kids out there, including your excellent videos, but I still feel like the kids who will be drawn to that content are not the ones who need it most. Thoughts?

thesoundandthefury17 karma

I totally agree with you. I think part of the reason we haven't seen the kind of diverse content in online video we need is economic. Sesame Street is not a show that could have built up its audience in broadcast or cable TV; it needed the grants/public funding model you find in public broadcasting.

So we need the funding to be there, to move from old media into new media spaces, but we also need to find and lift up more diverse voices to talk to (and teach) those kids. I don't know which comes first, but they're both desperately needed right now in the YouTube EDU space.

With The Art Assignment, we're able to work for a smaller but more passionate and diverse audience because we're working with PBS Digital Studios and they value diversity and depth of engagement not just maximizing the number of eyeballs.

joman4711 karma

In The Fault in Our Stars, Hazel is always watching America's Next Top Model. I haven't been able to figure out why you chose that show in particular. Unless you consider it a spoiler, could you shed a bit of light on why ANTM?

thesoundandthefury36 karma

One of the things I really like about teenagers is that they don't draw a bright line between high culture and low culture. They're comfortable liking what they like, and don't see anything incongruous about loving America's Next Top Model and Emily Dickinson.

I chose ANTM in particular because it is just--and I say this lovingly--exceedingly vapid. And one of the things I always hear from people when they talk about the sick or the dying is, "I can't believe they spent their last days doing THAT," referring to watching bad TV or worrying over football games or whatever. But the argument I was trying to make is that people who are dying are not fundamentally other. They are still people. They still like all the same things that people like, including reality television programs.

feelingschange9 karma

Who is your favorite rapper?

thesoundandthefury22 karma

Afasi och Filthy, of course.

senoritahermano4 karma

Good morning, John!

My 7th grade students finish their school year in a couple of days. Any advice for them for the next leg of their teenage adventures?

thesoundandthefury9 karma

I have good news, my soon-to-no-longer-be-seventh-graders: The worst is over. It has just ended. That was the worst. So many great and terrible things will happen to you in your lives, but no matter how challenging it gets, you will always be able to take a deep breath and say, "Well, at least I'm not in seventh grade anymore."